The International Center of Photography is opening a show of the work of Martin Munkacsi culled not from Harper’s Bazaar, for which the Hungarian photographer shot stars like Joan Crawford in the thirties, but from negatives rescued off eBay. In 2007, chief curator Brian Wallis received a call notifying him that a cache of 4,000 of Munkacsi’s long-lost glass-plate negatives had been listed for sale on eBay with a minimum bid of $1 million. Munkacsi’s negatives had been lost during immigration to America. He tracked down the seller in Connecticut and drove his station wagon out to find 300 dusty boxes containing images of Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, and Fred Astaire. (He wouldn’t say how much ICP paid.) “Sometimes, when you see something, there’s not even really any question about the authenticity,” Wallis says. “It was his handwriting on the boxes.”
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